Archive for June 29th, 2007

Port Isabel Lighthouse: Wartime Lookout

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Only a handful of historic lighthouses remain standing; among them — the 155 year old Port Isabel Lighthouse on the Lower Laguna Madre. Perhaps you’ve been there… and as you climbed the spiral staircase to the top… wondered about the people who tread those same steps… more than a hundred years ago.

The lighthouse was used during the Civil War by the Confederate and the Union soldiers back in 1866.

Port Isabel lighthouse keeper, Gabriel Gildinas.

During the war, the light had been removed. The soldiers could use it as a lookout tower. The Confederate soldiers would be stationed upstairs and they would make sure none of the Union soldiers were moving into this area.

Removing the light wasn’t the only modification made to the lighthouse during the Civil War. The handrail was moved to the right of the staircase. Doing so gave occupying forces at the top… an advantage over those climbing the stairs.

The soldiers that would be upstairs, when they’re coming down, they want to be able to use their right hand [to shoot their guns], so if any soldiers [enemy forces] are going up to the top of the lighthouse, they’d be forced to have to use their left hand. It gave the soldiers that were stationed inside the lighthouse an advantage.

Of course, this assumes all soldiers were right handed.

Find a link to more information about the Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site at

That’s our show for today…with research and writing help from Loren Seeger…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti